This is a picture from John Sonnen's amazing blog. It is, I think, the altar I had the privelege of offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on in Rome a couple of weeks ago. It is the FSSP Church of Ss. Trinità dei Pellegrini, it was part of the hospital complex where St Philip Neri and the primitive Oratorians washed the feet of pilgrims to Rome.
It was quite strange experience, there was no congregation just me and the angels and saints. The footpace of the altar is incredible narrow and rather rickety, it is difficult to genuflect on, I tried kneeling on it for the prayers after Mass, it was so uncomfortable and my knee was playing up, I ended up by standing, I know, I am unmortified!
I was so overcome by the history of the place, all those countless priests who had stood where I had stood, said what I had said, that long line of holy and not so holy men. That's the "kick" I get out of the old Mass in an old Church, at an old altar, it is something about "roots", or the hermeneutic of continuity.
But it was more than that, I was struck by what an immense privelege it is to simply offer Mass and even just to be able pray, to continue what had happened in that Church and the City of the Martyrs for centuries and would continue to happen long after I am no more. There was something immensely consoling to know my prayer, and maybe St Philips, somehow mingled at the same altar. That somehow it was of tremendous importance and yet of no imporrtance.
One of the beautiful things about the old Mass, for a priest, at least this priest, is that nothing depends on him, all is really about what God does. The priest just stands in God's presence and serves bringing nothing of himself, just his priesthood - it is wonderful to be there.